Tampa Bay Rays star SS Wander Franco back in training after two months in IL

NEW YORK — Shortstop Wander Franco has been activated from the Tampa Bay Rays’ 10-day injured list after missing two months with a right hamate bone injury that required surgery.

The 21-year-old was second at bat in Friday night’s series opener against the AL East-leading New York Yankees, and he doubled the gap from right-center in his first throw.

“We are delighted to have him back here. He is an integral part of our club,” Rays manager Kevin Cash said. “He makes us better in the lineup. He makes us better defensively, and we’ll see how that goes.”

Franco went to IL on July 10. An injury rehab assignment with Triple-A Durham in mid-August was cut short in his first game when the former top prospect suffered a sore hand. He returned to play with Durham last Sunday and went 6 for 11 in three games.

“I’d be shocked if he didn’t feel it. He’s going to feel it,” Cash said. “I don’t think it’s going to go away until maybe next spring training rolls around. It’s an operation that took out a bone, so it makes sense that he’s feeling it. Now it’s It’s just how he can handle it and how we can help him handle it.”

Double-playing partner Brandon Lowe was happy to reunite with Franco.

“We feel like as complete a team as possible right now,” Lowe said.

Franco agreed to an 11-year, $182 million contract in November after finishing third in AL Rookie of the Year voting. He entered Friday batting .260 with five home runs and 23 RBIs in 58 games.

Second-place Tampa Bay designated infielder Yu Chang for assignment and optional right-hander Yonny Chirinos to Triple-A Durham. Chirinos will stay with the big league club as a member of the taxi team.

“He’s been everything we could have asked for,” Cash said of Chang. “I feel like he made every play defensively. He had some big hits.”

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